[ RadSafe ] Sen Cantwell's Letter on Depleted Uranium Aerosols!

James Salsman james at bovik.org
Wed Apr 19 14:39:11 CDT 2006

Roger Helbig wrote:

 > I hope that some of you choose to let the good Senator know that
 > DU aerosols really do not exist!  At least not outside of the
 > kill zone inside the tank that is hit by the projectile.

Even those who completely ignore the production of uranyl oxide
gas are careful to explain that the aerosols can and do travel
several kilometers from uranium combustion sites.  E.g., see
Mitsakou et al. (2003) "Modeling the Dispersion of Depleted
Uranium Aerosol," Health Physics, vol. 84, pp. 538-544:

Furthermore, implying that tanks are hit by "the projectile" is
disingenuous because most of the DU ammunition used has been as
20, 25, and 30 mm rounds from rapid-fire machine guns, not as
single-shot antitank ordnance.

And what about uranyl oxide gas?  Does anyone still think I'm
wrong to say it gets produced in quantity?  If so, please see:

Alexander, C.A. (2005) "Volatilization of urania under strongly
oxidizing conditions," Journal of Nuclear Materials, vol. 346,
pp. 312-318:  http://www.bovik.org/du/Alexander2005.pdf
In particular, the vapor pressures reported in Table 6, in light
of the fact that the burning temperature usually exceeds 2500
Kelvin for the small particles involved in munitions fires.
(Mouradian and Baker (1963) "Burning Temperatures of Uranium and
Zirconium in Air," Nuclear Science and Engineering, vol. 15, pp.

It's clear that large quantities of UO3 gas are produced.  Of
course much of it quickly condenses and decomposes to U3O8 --
so much so that UO3(g) may be the sole source of the U3O8 which
comprises 75% of the particulate combustion product.  (Wilson,
W.B. (1961) "High-Pressure High-Temperature Investigation of the 
Uranium-Oxygen System," Journal Inorganic Nuclear Chemistry,
vol. 19, pp. 212-222.)

But the portion of UO3 which doesn't condense disperses further
and faster than the aerosols, and are absorbed directly into the
bloodstream if inhaled, dissolving immediately to uranyl ions
which cause chromosome damage leading to immunological disorders
and congenital malformations in the children of the exposed.

Again I ask:  Why have the authorities responsible for
determining the toxicological profile for uranium munition fume
inhalation never measured the gases produced; only the particulates?

James Salsman

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